The federal ministry of agriculture and rural development has put the demand for tomatoes in Nigeria at 2.2 million tons and the supply at 800,000 tons. The ministry added that the actual quantity of tomatoes harvested is 1.5 million tons but 700,000 tons are actually lost to post harvest bottlenecks.
“Tarungwa Tordue, a smallholder farmer in Benue State, struggled through the 2015 cropping season tending his tomatoes farm. His expectation which was to make reasonable returns from his labor was fulfill as he harvested 500baskets of tomatoes at the end of the season but due to inadequate storage and processing facility Tordue lost a huge fortune.
“Last time, I harvested over 500 baskets of tomatoes but could not sell them because there were no buyers. I could not even preserve them because there was no storage and processing facility in Benue State so I abandoned them at the market in Gboko,” he lamented. Millions of Nigerian smallholder farmer work very hard to plant all sort of crops and harvest them, but often cannot guarantee that the harvest will make it to market.
Linking farmers directly to market and retailers to cut out middle men will lead to higher price/net income for farmers as lower prices for consumers.
Smallholder farmers are presently an important source of supply for large food companies. An initiative that engage private sector constructively can help ensure that smallholders are integrated into supply chains in a manner that is mutually beneficial and not exploitative, which is a win-win for both parties can fast track the swift transport process and reduce waste to minimal.